Global Independent Analytics
Bojan Stanislawski
Bojan Stanislawski

Location: Poland

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Lumpen-fascism – modern applications of an established political tradition

After the recent so-called March of Independence in Warsaw many Western journalists concluded that this must be the Polish equivalent of strengthening neo-traditionalist and anti-EU opposition present west of the Oder. Not really.

First of all to attach any kind of serious political agenda to the phenomenon called the March of Independence reveals a very narrow and vulgarly Westernized perspective. It is a very convenient and, on the surface, logical – we’ve got the madness created by Orban in Hungary, the Pegida-run mobilizations in Germany, the Front Nationale in France, the unleavened populist racist stance of Fico and Zeman, the micro-Nazi government in Bulgaria headed by Zhivkovs ex-bodyguard… Well, it was the highest time to diagnose Poland with a similar illness or at least to note its symptoms.

This is all easy to do, but the mannerism of the Western analysis makes them get it wrong exactly there – upon the attempt to build platforms for qualitative comparisons between the Eastern European and the Western European perspectives. This might be quite natural for the posterity of the Enlightenment who, in their vulgar lunatic Eurocentrism,  keep thinking that the entire Europe, if not the whole world, is just like Western Europe, only worse. Not quite.

Eastern European nationalism is a phenomenon difficult to grasp, because its traditions are totally different. While in the XIX century (in some cases earlier), we saw the nation states emerging after victorious revolutions in Western Europe, the very same major social battles have been lost east of the Elbe river. The very existence of state structures in Eastern Europe were often due to decisions taken by the greatest powers of that epoch. Poland was no exception. The formal establishment of the 2nd Polish Republic was no more and no less but a conscious act of Realpolitik on the part of the emerging American empire the European West.

Quite rightly the leading geopolitical decision-makers of that time thought that Poland will be the finest entrenchment against the linking of the Russian and German revolutions in 1918 (and all other potential major social movements in the region). It took just two years for this perspective to be proven. In 1920, the defeat of the Red Army in the suburbs of Warsaw dealt a major blow to the new authorities in Russia, strengthened its dictatorial, bureaucratic tendencies and helped crush the social movements in Germany and Hungary. And it took such symbolic events and a great load of wild propaganda, brutal Catholic fundamentalism, ethnic cleansing, antisemitism and violent repression to establish the “national consciousness”. This avalanche of violence, fear and such kinds of low-class, mawkish candy-nationalism, had its effect mostly on those who had not had the mental capacity, intellectual flexibility or cultural capital to critically approach the question of their own identity in the new situation and instead obediently followed the vehemently introduced massive, nationalist narrative. Marx called them, in his critique of political economy, the reserve army of labor.

Those, who don’t belong anywhere, are the poor underclass that the society has a problem with and they have an even bigger one with the society. Those who were spitted out by history and the current, by the economy and the law, and are forced to vegetate somewhere on the complete fringes of the society.

Later, seeing all the benefits of this sort of ideological playing with and using the masses, also the high society began adopting itself to it, but never in the kind of violent, rampant and aggressive manner. Instead of repressing, they used. The elites still used the frustrated, degraded intelligentsia, the peasantry and the Lumpenproletariat to do the dirty job for them. Back before WWII there was no other way to confront the growing socialist movement but to do it on the streets. So it was a win-win situation. The new ruling classes establish themselves as noble and dignified Poles and they orchestrate a preemptive counter-revolution all over the place using the very masses they exploit and the same ideological scheme.

Pretty much the same thing was reproduced this week on the streets of Warsaw. It was a manifestation of a great coherence between the elite and the mob under the red-and-white banner and the phantasms behind it (every group and every single person can have his/her own). What one witnessed was nothing more than a massive expression of frustration to which the right wing extremists, now incorporated in the mainstream political arena, had managed to attach some emblems thus giving the protesters a false sense of fellowship. The people marching there had pretty much nothing in common. Stadium hooligans, angry youth from the poorest corners of Poland, unemployed, small businessmen, Catholic activists, obsessed intellectuals and the entire middle class, the philistinism living in the imaginary fear of “Islamization of Poland” by a few thousands refugees in a country inhabited by nearly 40 million Poles.

There was no, and there could have been none, meaningful political content apart from the cheap nationalist ornamentals. Jackets, pants, hats and scarfs with eagles and red-white subtitles plus slogans full of hatred but empty of any other content. Even judging by the chants and the banners. The main, official theme was cheap and blank to a most aggravating extent – “Poland for Poles, Poles for Poland”. The cake goes to anyone who can squeeze out anything concrete from this apart from the specific fascist-like aroma. But look at the rest of the slogans: “God, honor, homeland”, “Polish Vilnius, Polish Lviv!”, “Down with the Jewish occupation!”, “Fuck the Jews, fuck the Arabs! Poland for Poles!”.

In their infantilism and ignorance the Polish nationalists are ready to assume that the few thousands of Jews that live in Poland actually execute an “occupation” and that it would indeed be a hilarious prospect to incorporate the Lithuanian capital and a major city in Ukraine into Poland without realizing that had it not been for the Soviet Union and Yalta to cut these territories off the Polish state and jurisdiction after WWII, what happened in Bosnia in the early `90 would be a childs’ play in comparison to the war we would have had witnessed here. But there is more! In the absence of any thought,  thousands of people chanted the following line: “Fuck the Arabs, because it is not correct to fuck goats!” (it rhymes in Polish). And they had not realized for a minute how insanely stupid, discrediting, disgraceful and laughable at this shout-out is.

We are talking here of masses of socially incompetent and politically infantile people and not a confused movement that shall sooner or later recognize its goals. They just want to be together, to be violent, to shout and to make others be afraid of them. And, yet, this is exactly the tradition that has a chance to once again become the quality of the political agenda – lumpen-fascism.

Yes, this is true. A EU flag has been burned at the end of the march. But not only. A Russian one too. And German. However, one is compelled to admit it is a kind of improvement. Two years ago they tried to set the Russian embassy in Warsaw on fire and almost succeeded. This year it was much calmer because the vast majority of the marchers believe the Russophobic, Catholic fundamentalist party Law & Justice, the winner of the recent general elections, will form a government soon, as their representatives, so they refrained from rioting. For now.

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